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SECRETARY NAPOLITANO AND ICE ASSISTANT SECRETARY MORTON
ANNOUNCE NEW IMMIGRATION DETENTION REFORM INITIATIVES
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano
and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John Morton
today announced new initiatives as part of the Department’s ongoing immigration
detention reform efforts—enhancing the security and efficiency of ICE’s nationwide
detention system while prioritizing the health and safety of detainees.
“These new initiatives will improve accountability and safety in our detention facilities as
we continue to engage in smart and effective enforcement of our nation’s immigration
laws,” said Secretary Napolitano.
“These new reforms will establish consistent standards across the country, prioritizing
risk, strengthening oversight and increasing efficiency in our immigration detention
system,” Assistant Secretary John Morton said.
The reform efforts address the seven major components of the detention system outlined
in a comprehensive review conducted by Dora Schriro, the former ICE Office of
Detention Policy and Planning Director, over the past several months, focusing on greater
federal oversight, specific attention to detainee care, and uniformity at detention facilities.
Each of the reforms announced today are expected to be budget neutral or result in cost
savings through reduced reliance on contractors to perform key federal duties and
additional oversight of all contracts.
Secretary Napolitano and Assistant Secretary Morton also announced that Phyllis Coven
will serve as Acting Director of the Office of Detention Policy and Planning while a
nationwide search for a permanent director is underway. Coven, who has 17 years of
experience in the federal government and international community, comes to ICE from
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Throughout her career, Coven has chaired
numerous detention initiatives at the Department of Justice and the former Immigration
and Naturalization Service.
To better manage all detainee populations, ICE will centralize all contracts under ICE
headquarters’ supervision. Currently, the majority of more than 300 active contracts are
negotiated and managed by disparate ICE field offices. ICE will also aggressively
monitor and enforce contract performance in order to ensure contractors comply with
terms and conditions—especially those related to conditions of confinement.
To advance the effective use of alternatives to detention (ATD), ICE will develop an
assessment tool to identify aliens suitable for ATD and will submit a plan to Congress
this fall to implement an ATD program nationwide. ICE will continue to work with the
Department of Justice to expedite the adjudication of ATD cases to reduce costs.
To better manage detention operations, ICE will develop a risk assessment and
custody classification, which will enable detainees to be placed in an appropriate facility.
ICE will pursue detention strategies based on assessed risk and reduce costs by exploring
the use of converted hotels, nursing homes and other residential facilities.
To better manage special populations and improve program management, ICE will
house non-criminal, non-violent populations, such as newly arriving asylum seekers, at
facilities commensurate with risk and expand programs available including legal support
To enhance detainee medical care, ICE will devise and implement a medical
classification system that will improve awareness of an individual detainee’s medical and
mental health conditions from the time the individual first enters detention.
To ensure accountability and reduce reliance on contractors, ICE will more than double
the number of federal personnel providing onsite oversight at the facilities where the
majority of detainees are housed. ICE will also accelerate efforts to provide an online
search system for attorneys, family members and others to locate detained aliens.
On Aug. 6, 2009, Assistant Secretary Morton announced the first steps in ICE’s detention
formation of two advisory groups comprised of local and national stakeholders and the
establishment of the Office of Detention Oversight, an independent apparatus to inspect
facilities and investigate detainee grievances.
For more information on the ICE detention reforms, visit www.dhs.gov.
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